Did Houston’s pro-growth policies make this disaster worse?

Hurricane Harvey hit Texas on August 25, 2017. It caused $180 billion in damage, making it the most expensive natural disaster in U.S. history. To give you a sense of that number, the budget for the entire state government of Texas is about $109 billion per year.

 

The Houston Chronicle ran a story (Link: https://www.houstonchronicle.com/local/hc-investigations/harvey/) in December on public policy decisions by federal, state and local officials before and during the hurricane. While nobody is blaming government for the hurricane, the Chronicle story claims that unwise policy decisions and missed opportunities had a lot to do with why the damage was so extensive.

Houston has always been a pro-business, pro-growth place, as we studied back in the first chapter of our book. Did Houston’s pro-growth policies make this disaster worse?

Write our standard 2 – 5 page essay (this will probably need more than 2 pages…) explaining some of the public policy decisions – good and bad – that impacted the flooding caused by Hurricane Harvey. What should we do going forward, and how should we pay for it?

Submit in Word. Cite your sources.

Additional Resources

Here’s the Chronicle series: http://www.houstonchronicle.com/local/hc-investigations/harvey/ 

This article has a lot of statistics and links to other useful sources: https://www.thebalance.com/hurricane-harvey-facts-damage-costs-4150087 

When the local Katy Freeway was widened back in the 90’s, we had a “once-in-a-lifetime” chance to build a huge conveyance culvert underneath it to move water from the reservoirs straight to the ship channel: https://www.dallasnews.com/news/harvey/2017/09/05/houston-grew-officials-ignored-lifetime-chance-spare-thousands-flooding 

Federally subsidized National Flood Insurance, while well-intended, is part of the problem: https://www.forbes.com/sites/omribenshahar/2017/08/30/lessons-from-hurricane-harvey-federal-flood-insurance-is-the-problem-not-the-solution/#4aa054925013 

Harris County Judge Ed Emmett has some ideas: https://spacecityweather.com/harris-county-judge-releases-15-point-plan-to-address-houston-flooding/ 

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